Sunday, November 21, 2010

Aurora Passes Restricted Breed Service Dog Ordinance

The Neighborhood Services Policy Committee of Aurora, Colorado, met to revise an ordinance passed relating to Pit Bulls or restricted breeds of dogs used as service dogs. Since the Pit Bull ban was passed in May 2005, there has been speculation whether Aurora has been more lenient towards the ban. Could this ordinance allow more doors to be opened in regards to revoking the ban?

Just recently, Aurora resident Allen Grider, a Vietnam War Veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, filed a lawsuit against the city. He stated that the city had no right to mandate how his service dog is maintained, regardless of the ban.

Grider said that, “She’s my protector,”during an interview earlier this year with the Aurora Sentinel. “I can’t sleep if she’s not here. If I’m tense, she’ll bother me until I calm down.”

The Pit Bull ban has been a long fought battle. The ban was enforced in 1989, challenged, and brought back in full force in 2005 in response to two cases of attacks that resulted in injuries caused by Pit Bull breeds in the Denver Metro area. In 2006, Aurora chose to adopt the ban as well. The ordinance states that Aurora bans any "restricted breed of dog", meaning any American Bulldog (Old Country Bulldog), Dogo Argentino, Canary Dog, Presa Mallorquin, Tosa Inu (Tosa Fighting Dog, Japanese Fighting Dog, Japanese Mastiff), Cane Corso, Fila Brasileiro or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds. The ban includes dogs that display the "majority of the physical traits" of these breeds or "distinguishing characteristics that substantially conform" to AKC or UKC breed standards.

If a Pit Bull is reported in the area, the dog is taken away and transported to a local shelter. A judge evaluates the case and the dog either: remains in the shelter and is adopted out by a family that lives in a city that does not participate in the ordinance, or the dog is euthanized. A person owning a Pit Bull may apply for a license 60 days after the ban has been enforced, but they must follow certain restrictions, like wearing a muzzle and signage claiming you have a Pit Bull.

On November 18th, 2010, provided by Cherly Conway, public relations specialist of Animal Care Division, city council members passed a revised issue of the ordinance with a vote of 3-1.

The ordinance now sates that:

New ADA regulations addressing RB service dogs will take effect on March 15, 2011. Municipalities will no longer be allowed to prohibit a disabled person from keeping a Pit Bull or RB as a service dog. In light of these pending regulations and the potential for new dogs to come into the City, even after all grandfathered dogs expire, it is recommended the City revise the ordinance to formally address these animals.
The citizen owning a Pit Bull service dog is required to obtain a license; however the ordinance will:
  • Waives the annual license fee
  • Adjust the minimum age to meet the handler
  • Waives insurance requirement
  • Waives gate signage requirement
  • Waives Pit Bulls from not being allowed on porch or patio if it interferes with duties
  • Waives requirement of dog to be on 4-feet or shorter leash and muzzled if it interferes with duties as well.

The biggest contributing factor in this new ordinance is the fact that, a citizen of Aurora now has the ability to claim the need for a Pit Bull service dog without providing any proof of their disability due to discrimination. During the council meeting, it was addressed that there remains the possibility of any person claiming they have a disability in order to obtain or retain a Pit Bull.

“I don’t agree that they do not require certification for a service dog. I can’t take my dog into the hospital because I want it to be there and didn’t want to be there. Of course you need certification—I think,” said Molly Markert, city council member.

This new ordinance protects Pit Bulls from being taken out of the city and possibly enables more Pit Bulls to come into the city. Therefore, is this ordinance the new gateway to revoking the ban in Aurora, and how many people will take advantage of it?

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